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Day 4 - Rain didn't stop play
March 3, 2010                        Capestang to Pouzols-Minervois                            13 miles
Canal nr la Croisade
Wet picnic
Muddy boots
As a reminder, you can map my position by typing the place name in the Search box here.
Capestang's favorite baguette is known as a Capestangaise. I bought one of these mouth-watering creations just minutes out of the oven as I left town at 8.30 am. It would go nicely with the emmenthal cheese I bought last night. A man can't live on sardine baguettes alone, and standard ones at that. In fact, emmenthal cheese in a Capestangaise is one of life's treasures, and only slightly compromised when the Capestangaise is soaked in Hérault rain.

It rained here in Hérault just as they forecast, and it affected my lunch, my day and my plans.

As a physical reality, rain turned the canal tow path to mud, which will likely persist until tomorrow or beyond even if the rain stops. Moreover, this-'ere French mud 'aint no ordinary mud. This is clumping mud. When you step on it, you seem to pick it up. In fact, sometimes you don't even have to step on it to pick it up. It senses the presence of a boot in the vicinity, and slithers over to do its dirty deed, which includes climbing up trouser legs.

When you try to remove this French mud by wiping your boots on the grass, or on the edge of a curb, it likes your boots so much that it doesn't want to leave. There seems to be just one way to get it off your boots, and that's to spike it off with your hiking pole. The trouble is that this is painstaking work, requiring you to stand on one leg and contort yourself to get the hiking pole to the soles. Then it sticks to the hiking pole instead, but that's not too bad. You can dip a hiking pole in the canal without fear of falling in. You can't do that with a boot.

So I departed the canal shortly after La Croisade, and thereafter stayed mainly on the D11. On the D11, the only mud you're likely to encounter is the mud thrown up by passing trucks, of which there were quite a few. There were no other alternatives.

After the sprinkles came a shower or two, with a touch of hail, and then it got cold. I put my gloves on, and a second hat, and made the best of it.

The rain didn't just affect my day physically. Because I was forewarned, it was doubly-necessary to secure accommodation in advance. I am not currently near any towns bigger than a thousand or so people, and they're quite widely-spaced. When I couldn't find accommodation close to the canal, I found it in Pouzols-Minervois instead. In this vicinity, the canal does a big looping turn, shown on maps somewhat like a U. Pouzols-Minervois is in the center of the U about five miles west of the U's right-side. So, tomorrow, I have another five miles to go before reaching the U's left-side, where my route intersects the canal near a town called Homps.

This isn't all bad, because I'm going to avoid a lot of mud, as well as make up for time lost earlier.

I felt I had to put in the miles today despite the rain. In fact, I was pleased that both my boots and my coat kept me pretty-well dry, and knock-on-wood that I remain injury-free. I covered about 13 miles (20 km) before stopping at La Maison des Rossignols [House of Nightingales], whose English owners made me feel welcome.
Roadside stand rest stop
A closed roadside stand made for a sheltered resting spot
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